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There are several conventions on how to signal properly

  • The simple method (straight left arm = left, straight right arm = right)
  • This answer on SE depicts a left-arm-only way of signalling (straight left arm = left, bent 90 up = right)

I'd like to know where should one use which singalling convention? I'm personally mostly concerned about Europe, but let's keep the question general.

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Please sort alphabetically: * Method A) * Germany * * Method B) * –  user unknown Oct 19 '11 at 21:39
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5 Answers

Both question linked by Neil are rather comprehensive for the US and UK. Wikipedia (though not the greatest resource) seems to have a nice, even if short, list of arm signals in various countries.

I live in Denmark, and while I couldn't find a trusted resource for it (there are a number of blog posts, though), I'd say the convention is to use straight left and right arm signals. And in reality they are something between a straight and a bent arm, so it only matters which arm is used.

Finally, Lithuanian traffic rules (note: it's in Lithuanian) indicate the following:

  • To turn right, use straight right arm or bent left arm
  • To turn left, use straight left arm or bent right arm
  • To stop, use either left or right arm straight up
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Germany: The law says "(1) Wer abbiegen will, muß dies rechtzeitig und deutlich ankündigen" / "(1) When one wants to turn one has to indicate this in time and in a clear way" §9 StVO.

I think that is a good law straight to the point. Everybody possibly affected has to be warned. In school I learned to use straight let or right arm. In practice I barely do this as much, this then again depends on the other traffic and road situation (on narrow roads of bad quality i keep my hands closer to the handlebar to keep my bike under control etc.)

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In countries where you drive on the right side of the road (the US, and most European countries), you should signal with the left arm. That means:

  • Turning right: signal with a 90 degree bent left arm out to the side, pointing up.
  • Turning left: signal with a straight arm out to the side, straight out.

The reason to use the left arm is that your left brake is the front wheel. If you have to brake in an emergency situation, it's usually better to heavily use the rear brake. If you only use the front brake, there's more of a danger of going over your bars.

In countries such as the UK, where you drive on the left hand side of the road, brakes are reversed. So signal with the right arm.

Generally, pointing clears up some ambiguity compared to a bent arm, but is less safe for the cyclist when turning right (or left in the UK, etc.).

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In the UK this would cause a lot of confusion - drivers expect an arm out (at all) to mean you are turning that way. Anything else would just not work. See the question @NeilFein linked to. –  Rory Alsop Oct 21 '11 at 20:37
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Netherlands : The only thing I could find that you can be fined €25 if you do not signal with your arm or indicator. I haven't heard that anybody has been fined for not signalling, as most people do not trust other people enough to change direction without looking.

But if people do use hand signals they indeed just extend their arms, I really don't see any other way to signal anyway.

On a side note, I just discovered that I could be fined €35 if I don't lock my bike.....

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The left-arm-only way sounds to me like a way to signal if you're riding a motorcycle, since you can control your speed with your right hand.

I live in Belgium, and afaik you should indicate whenever it's safe to do. When you're riding down a road in bad condition, or in bad weather, it can be better to have both hands ready on the brakes.

Also, do realize that people don't need a bike-riding-license. Children can ride a bike far sooner than they can comprehend the purpose of signaling. And I don't think it would be wise to fine someone who didn't signal, unless he's really bringing other people in danger.

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